By Ragan M. Conteh
Residents in various communities in Freetown have expressed varying concerns over water shortage in their communities.
The shortage is one of the many challenges faced by successive governments although several policy measures have been pursued to improve the situation.
The Rokel River Project which runs into millions of US dollars stands as one of the policy measures. The project is yet to come to reality although it appears as if it was dead in the waters. Deforestation also brings along its own problem to a polarized situation. The indiscriminate felling of trees in water catchment areas worsens the shortage.
Guma Valley Water Company, the water supply agency in Freetown has not lived up to its mandate. The company’s incapacity is not divorced from different challenges facing it. Several public and private sector institutions owe the company huge sums of money running into millions of Leones thus crippling its operations.
A resident at Kissy Road, Rugiatu Kanu narrated how she had gone for days without water. The water shortage situation is challenging to women in the community particularly Rugiatu Kanu. “If water shortage is not addressed in the community, it will lead to serious problem for us,” Rugiatu lamented. Water Shortage, according to Rugiatu, has continued to threaten the lives of the people in Freetown.
The situation at Allen Town community is not too different from the one at Kissy Road. An Allen Town resident, Albert Sandy told Nightwatch that water shortage has caused women and girls great problems in their homes. “Residents in our community walk long distances in search of pure drinking water,” Sandy recounted.
Similarly, Mamoud Kamara of Mountain Cut expressed issues akin to the other residents of other communities in Freetown. Kamara appealed to the authorities to quickly intervene into the water situation in Freetown.
The Chairman for the committee on Water Resources in parliament, Hon Lahai Marrah accepted the claims made by the residents over which he expressed dismay. The parliamentary chairman also made reference to the appalling water situation in the provincial communities in Sierra Leone with special emphasis on the failure of Ministries, departments and agencies to offset their debt obligations to the water company.“The committee will invite Guma Water Company debtors to parliament with a view to take possible action against them,” he emphasized. Such action, the parliamentarian hoped, would improve the operations of the company. “The Water Resources Committee will not sit by to see only few people continue to access water in Freetown,” he stressed.
In spite of the promises made by the MP to improve the water situation, other factors including the destruction of water pipes, lack of manpower and the absence of a monitoring mechanism may tend to defeat the promise of the MP.